Blackwood has been a long time coming, I picked up the CPU, mobo, GT 610, a trash PSU and a CM N200 case up off a friend for $50 in June 2017 with the intention of making a gaming rig out of it, but the more I thought about it, the more I decided to make it into a HTPC instead. By this time it was about August.
I started scouring gumtree (basically craigslist for you Americans) to see what decent hardware I could get on the cheap and in the end managed to pick up the WD red and the RAM for a guy who was parting out one of his older rigs, for a pretty decent price. Also ignore the warnings about the RAM not working with the board, it runs quite happily at 1333MHz (it also means I have a single stick of the RAM left over, so if someone wants it and is in Australia, PM me).
I also decided I wanted to make this machine as quiet as possible due to the use case which is why the cooler was chosen and as was the passive cooled GPU and the noctua fans, with fan controller. But the biggest and hardest decision was what to do about a case. I had decided basically straight away that it wasn't staying in the original case that I had the parts in, it was too ugly and large. I had been wanting to build a wood case PC for a long time and I plan on building more (next rig I plan on building for myself will be a water cooled PC built into a desk but that's probably 2019). Plus I figured that I might as well make it the centrepiece of the whole show which is why I chose some of the timbers that I did, more on that later.
I had great fun coming up with a design that I felt was easy enough to build and to cool the components effectively as well. I did consider a design where all the cool air was drawn in the sides and vented out the back but in the end I decided against it even though it would have been quieter on the grounds that I would have had difficulty with PWRLED and PWRSwitch placement and how to do an effective, easy to remove dust filter for the front. Thus the design you see in the pictures was born. I do have to thank my brother for the suggestion of using a ring of PVC water pipe to hold the tulle (which makes up the filters) in place.
The choice of timber was probably one of the easier parts, the top and sides are made out of red stringybark (Eucalyptus macrorhyncha) timber which would have been harvested off the property that my parents live on currently and were pulled out of the house when my parents renovated it and saved as it was a shame to burn or throw away so much beautiful timber. As for the front, it is made up of two timbers sourced from Tasmania, the blackwood (Acacia melanoxylon) and King William (Billy) pine (Athrotaxis selaginoides). These days the king billy pine is quite rare due to excessive clearing and slow growth rates, it makes up the small highlights on the sides. I used some old Oregon plywood to make up the inside of the sides, base, motherboard tray and back, because it was easy to work and you can't see those areas.
The blackwood which makes up the majority of the front panel was a very interesting timber to work with, especially due to the way that particular piece was sawn, the the fact that it is a very hard wood. You could only run the timber through the thicknesser one direction otherwise you get chips coming out of the timber, it would burn if you work it the wrong way and it is very difficult to remove once that happens- you need to strip 1/4mm off minimum to remove it. The other timbers were really easy to work in comparison, a knife through hot butter comes to mind...
Most parts of the case build came together pretty well, a few hiccups aside, like a bent 115mm hole saw... RIP $40... Some things really didn't go to plan though, like measuring the wrong length for the side panels and lid and thus having to change how I did the back to make it all work, but hey, I managed to get to work out alright in the end. The one thing that I'm really not happy with still is the I/O shield and PCI-E slots, they were taken from a defunct HP prebuilt that no longer functioned and I didn't want the case for anything. The problem was I couldn't come up with a good way to fasten it in place and the cut out I made ended up being too large as I was 2mm out with my positioning. It did work out in the end but wasn't ideal. I also had to add the fan controller late in the build process when I discovered I couldn't get all the fans to behave well off the mobo fan headers and the splitters I was using. I ended up using a semi-gloss lacquer for the case, which I felt was the best compromise between a matt finish and full gloss, which I find just a little bit unpleasant to look at on dark and really light coloured timbers.
So far this build has been used mostly for netflix and a bit of gaming, using steam home streaming for a bit of casual gaming with friends and does very well at that, ubuntu has been plenty fast enough for that and was much better once I worked out how to fix the auto login bug in 17.10.
Overall, I'm happy with the way this build turned out and I certainly learned a lot about how to design and build a wooden case, and most importantly, what I would change if I was to build it all over again, which was a lot lol. A big thanks to my brother and father for their assistance with this build, from using a tools that I didn't have the skills for, to providing suggestion and another set of hands when I needed it. And thank you to the reader, for having made it through me blathering on for far too long.
TL;DR: Wooden cases look nice, are harder work to put together than they look but I feel like they are worth the effort and would do it again.
EDIT: Blackwood got featured, that you very much everyone for all the upvotes and support for this build and I don't imagine I'll manage to top this with my next build.
The card seems to run just fine and being passively cooled is a massive bonus, especially being the only one that has HDMI and DP. But the star comes off for MSI making you take the heat sink off to install the low profile bracket on it.